Storms

Tisen posing on the top of the sledding hill with the bridge over the wetland in the background

Tisen posing on the top of the sledding hill with the bridge over the wetland in the background

Although we seem to have largely skipped right over spring, we didn’t skip over the storms.  I’m not sure if we’re still having spring storms or if we’ve moved into summer ones, but we’ve had some doozies lately.

Now days, Tisen usually sleeps through storms–provided they’re not too loud.  Before we moved, the rain would hit the roof and echo through the metal sheeting, creating a drumming sound so loud that if it was raining really hard, I had trouble hearing if I was on a conference call.  That is one of the perks of our new location–unless there is thunder and lightening, the rain can only be heard hitting the windows.

But there has been thunder and lightening.  In fact, one day earlier this week, a storm broke loose with what seemed like almost constant thunder and lightening.  Because I was on a conference call with noise-blocking earbuds in my ears, I really didn’t notice the thunder until Tisen suddenly wiggled his way between my chair and my desk and managed to wind himself around my feet.  I couldn’t figure out what had come over him until I took out an ear bud and looked out the window.

Tisen hiding from thunder

Tisen hiding from thunder

I had to attempt to photograph him wound around my legs.  However, it was a bit challenging with my iPhone shooting from straight above. When you look at this photo, the thing in the top left is my knee.  Directly under Tisen’s nose, if you look carefully, you can see my foot with Tisen’s legs over it.  Just below his nose, you can see one wheel of my desk chair.  You can also see the various items under my desk like power cords, a printer, and a basket of office supplies, that Tisen wedged himself between in order to have physical contact with my foot.

I don’t know exactly what makes Tisen feel safe when he is in contact with my foot.  I’m certain that if I’d been sitting on the sofa he would have been up in my lap trying to press himself against me as if he was trying to get inside my skin.  However, he made due with my foot since my lap was wholly unavailable.

Tisen preparing to go out

Tisen preparing to go out

Tisen has other ways of finding comfort.  He doesn’t like to leave without a toy.  Sometimes it seems he holds his toy more tightly than others.  I’m not always able to figure out what exactly makes him nervous.  I know large crowds make him cling to his toy more tightly, even in hot weather.  But on the day I took pictures of him with Pink Elephant up on the sledding hill, I’m not sure what inspired him to carry Elephant all the way to the top.

Perhaps indicating confidence, he’s left a trail of toys lately.  He dropped Moose one day and Duck the next.  Two days later it was Duck again.  It’s a good thing our neighbors know whose door to leave stray toys in front of!

Another pose on top of the sledding hill

Another pose on top of the sledding hill

Advertisements

Warehouse Row

The Warehouse Row sign makes a great subject for the tintype effect of Hipstamatic

The Warehouse Row sign makes a great subject for the tintype effect of Hipstamatic

Warehouse Row is one of those really cool concepts that, as a fan of a given city, you really want to see succeed.  They took a bunch of warehouses (which apparently grew out of a military fort some time in the past) and turned them into a collection of shops and restaurants inside the original architecture.

This area was originally reinvented in the 1980’s and renovated again in 2006.  I really hope it takes off, but people are fickle.  People flock to anything new and cool.  But, new and cool wears off quickly and it’s hard to keep reinventing oneself fast enough to keep pace if “new and cool” is all you have to offer.

A brighter, more modern look at the Public House side of Warehouse Row

A brighter, more modern look at the Public House side of Warehouse Row

There are some other things going on in the area that may help Warehouse Row gain some more momentum in lieu of another facelift.  First of all, the city’s South side is starting to become a residential area.  It’s re-development from a manufacturing area to a mixed-use residential area was slowed (like all development) by the economic crisis, but as we continue to recover, more and more of the neighborhood transitions to a desirable place to live.  This combined with the growing number of shops and restaurants in other historical buildings just a couple of blocks from Warehouse Row should help keep a steady stream of customers in the vicinity.

Views around Warehouse Row

Views around Warehouse Row

Restaurants like Public House bring people in the doors. It’s an extremely popular place that people have told us about on more than one occasion.  When we decided to give it a try for the first time last weekend, we went early enough to check out a couple of shops as well.

The pedestrian walkway connecting two of the warehouses

The pedestrian walkway connecting two of the warehouses

The home decor shop we stopped in was extremely high end.  I spotted a floor lamp I liked, but it was $850.  Not what I was expecting to spend on a floor lamp.  They did have some nice things, however.  Although many of their items were oversized for our tiny condo.  It made me wonder if perhaps the reason the shops are not crowded with patrons is because of the price range they’re targeting.  That said, we didn’t make it in the doors of any other shops before getting so hungry we had to go get food.  The shops were all closed by the time we left, which was only 5PM on a Saturday.  I wondered a second time if the hours of the shops would be a limiting factor to their success.  Of course, I have no idea how successful they are or aren’t with their current price range and hours.

The entrance to the warehouse at the Public House end

The entrance to the warehouse at the Public House end

When we left, we had the dogs in the car so we took them for a little stroll before heading home.  This gave me the opportunity to take some photos of the area with my iPhone.  As I was shooting, it struck me that if I were looking at photos of this neighborhood, I would not guess it was in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

From the parking lot at Warehouse Row

From the parking lot at Warehouse Row

The Etiquette of Dog Days

Twiggy keeping cool

Twiggy keeping cool but not still

When I was a child, I preferred to wear dresses.  My mother was constantly trying to get me to wear pants, but I was insistent on my own sense of fashion.  I have no recollection as to why I would have wanted to wear dresses or even that I did, but I know that all the photos of me up until I was in about the first grade prove my mother’s story.

In most of these photos, I have skinned knees or knees marked with the white residue of a white-painted fence we used to climb.  I my memory, I spent most of my time outdoors running around, frequently falling or managing to bang myself up in other ways.

Tisen enjoying a rub

Tisen enjoying a rub

This was not, however, the concern my mother had with me wearing dresses.  Rather, it was the constant battle she had going on in her head between wanting to preserve my childhood innocence and wanting to help me learn to conform to some social norms.  While I’m sure someone somewhere has written a book that tells parents when girls should stop being allowed to run around climbing on things when they’re wearing a dress, my mother hadn’t read it.  Even if she had, she might not have agreed on the cutoff point.

In any case, eventually my mother did convert me to wearing pants.  Had I been born a generation or so earlier, she might have made me stop climbing trees and fences and kept me in dresses.  I feel pretty fortunate that pants afforded me freedoms that might otherwise have been denied to me.

Twiggy does not wear dresses or pants.  She goes out in fur every day of the year, although her parents were kind enough to have her coat trimmed for her as the temperature rose, she otherwise dresses the same every day.  As a dog, we humans don’t expect her to have adopted our own hang ups about sitting primly with ankles crossed.  Yet, Twiggy frequently does sit that way.  She assumes a sphinx pose, crosses her front pays, and holds her head in a pose that makes you think she might be Cleopatra reincarnated.  She truly is regal.

Tisen takes Duck to the other side of the room

Tisen takes Duck to the other side of the room

But the other day, when our inside temperature was pushing 80 (yes, I am trying to make it to June with no A/C), she had no qualms or self-consciousness about flopping down on the floor in as unladylike a pose as imaginable.  And I found it so amusing that I had no qualms about taking a few photos (using the Camera! app on the iPhone) to share with you.

Tisen, who was happy to opt for a belly rub when Daddy was available, didn’t seem quite as comfortable with the whole belly-twist pose Twiggy assumed.  Although, I don’t know how much of his shyness came from my with the camera vs Twiggy sprawling across the floor.  All I know is Tisen took Duck and moved to the other side of the room.

Tisen decides to hang out with Duck

Tisen decides to hang out with Duck. Photography note: backlight seems to create a very hazy effect with the iPhone

Web, Wings, and Walks

Spider web with buildings blurred in the background

Spider web with buildings blurred in the background

I am not obsessed–no matter what my husband claims–with birding.  I have only listened to my bird song recordings a few times this season.  I have only ordered one new birding-related product (a new version of birding software that let’s you quiz yourself on recognizing birds by sight and/or sound).  I have gone on no long-distance trips for the purpose of birding.

spider lace

spider lace

I even walk outdoors without binoculars.  This is a bit foolish–especially during the birdathon when every bird counts.  I keep seeing birds I can’t identify without binoculars when I don’t have them on me.  But, I often forget to grab the binocs when Tisen is in a particularly big hurry to get outside.  Somehow it seems wrong to ask him to cross his legs any longer than necessary while I get myself organized.

Drops reflecting the buildings outside

Drops reflecting the buildings outside

Today I was determined to make an evening bird walk at a marsh.  I haven’t been to this marsh before and I figured there was a good chance I’d pick up a few additional species before the Birdathon ends.

Single strand of water droplets

Single strand of water droplets

I took Tisen for a walk before I had to leave.  We made it about ¼ of the way through the park when the first clap of thunder sounded.  It wasn’t even a clap; it was more of a rumble.  It was enough for Tisen–he did an about-face and started pulling on the leash to head back in.  Because we lost Tiger during our lunchtime walk, I wanted to continue the walk and look for him.  But Tisen wasn’t missing Tiger so much.  I got him to turn around and take about 3 more steps, but when the next rumble of thunder came along, he was done.  We ended up jogging back up the path from whence we came.

This spider literally ran into the center of the shot as I was shooting and then ran out again

This spider literally ran into the center of the shot as I was shooting and then ran out again

As the sky opened up, lightening bolts struck left and right, and even hail started to bounce of the windowsills, I noticed a large spider web in the window was catching raindrops.  I decided to experiment with shooting it for the few minutes I had before I needed to leave.  While I had a little trouble because of the background, I got a few images I like.

The Standifer Gap Marsh

The Standifer Gap Marsh

By the time I needed to leave, the rain and lightening had moved on.  I headed down to the garage and headed out to the other side of town for the walk.  Traffic was backed up and visibility was nil.  I arrived at the marsh late and then wasn’t sure where the entrance was.  No one else was there.  Not a big surprise considering on this side of town it was still raining and lightening every few seconds.

IMG_2069

I got out of the car and walked about 50 yards from the car and back–just long enough to add 2 birds to my birdathon list and take a few photos with the Camera! app–my iPhone safely protected in a waterproof case while my DSLR remained sheltered in the car.

More marsh

More marsh

 

Tisen gives Daddy a bath

Tisen gives Daddy a bath

 

Riding at Sunrise

Sunrise reflected on Amnicola Marsh

Sunrise reflected on Amnicola Marsh

5:15AM didn’t seem any later this morning than it did yesterday.  Especially not after a bad night’s sleep–poor Tisen started itching again in the middle of the night.  But, I managed once again to get myself out of bed.  Then things went a bit South.

A sculpture lurking in the dim morning light

A sculpture lurking in the dim morning light

It’s like a time warp occurs in the morning.  I can look at the clock at 5:20, do a task that normally takes 5 minutes, and suddenly, it will be 5:45.  By the time I’d had a cup of coffee, gotten myself together, taken Tisen for a short walk, and gathered together all of the required accessories for an early morning bike ride, it was 6:40.  Then, still adjusting to having my bike in the parking garage and having to take all steal-able accessories off every time I ride, it took nearly 20 more minutes from the time I walked out our door to the time I’d finished re-accessorized my bike, unlocked it, and filled the tires.

The train crossing in morning light

The train crossing in morning light

At long last, I headed up the River Walk.  By the time I started riding, I felt foolish for bothering with the lights–it was light enough I no longer needed them.  As I made my way back across the Walnut Street Bridge and East along the Tennessee River, two Great Blue Herons flew straight at each other as if they were playing a game of chicken (I wonder if they call it “heron”?) until one suddenly swooped downward in a graceful dive, leveling out just above the water.

A Great Blue Heron perched on the rail of the pier below the bridge

A Great Blue Heron perched on the rail of the pier below the bridge

 

As I watched, my mouth dropped open just about the time I rode through a cloud of small gnat-like critters.  I guess I was hungry, but it wasn’t quite the filling snack I had in mind.  I have to say I preferred the mouth full of gnats over the eyeful of gnats I got simultaneously.  I rinsed my mouth with water, shut it tight, and wiped as many bugs out of my eyes as possible.

The final stretch of the River Walk

The final stretch of the River Walk

I rode as hard and as fast as I dared on the river walk–it’s not really a route conducive to riding fast, in fact, one section is posted 3-5 miles per hour.  I can’t imagine it’s physically possible to ride a bike 5 mph or less, but clearly the people who built the river walk weren’t cyclists.

Can you spot the Great Blue Heron on the rocky shore?

Can you spot the Great Blue Heron on the rocky shore?

When I came up on the Amnicola Marsh, I had to stop.  The sun was rising behind the marsh, reflected in the water.  3 Canada Geese were rendered into black swans, silhouettes against the brilliant light.  Near the shore, a group of Coots stretched out their gangly legs and ran back into the water as I rolled to a stop.

After taking a few photos, I remounted and made my way up to the dam.  A fisherman on the pier caught something big on his line as I was turning around to return home.  I wonder if it was an old tire or a giant fish?

My boy waiting patiently at home for breakfast

My boy waiting patiently at home for breakfast

Summer Morning

Hipstatmatic version of the Chickamauga Dam shortly after sunrise

Hipstatmatic version of the Chickamauga Dam shortly after sunrise

Someone flipped the weather switch from winter to summer.  After a quick afternoon walk in the park with Tisen yesterday when I discovered it was suddenly August, I decided it was high time I get my bike out of storage and take it for a spin.

Camera! version of the Chickamauga Dam

Camera! version of the Chickamauga Dam

It seemed like a fantastic idea last night.  I got it all ready to go, putting air in the tires, checking the brakes, digging up my biking shoes and helmet.  I even found appropriate attire and laid it out so I wouldn’t have to hunt around for what to wear.

When the alarm jerked me awake mid-dream at 5:15AM, it seemed like less of a good idea.

But, once jerked awake, it’s hard to go back to sleep.  I stumbled into the kitchen and made some coffee.

Train trestle over the Tennessee River

Train trestle over the Tennessee River

I eventually made it out the door, still ahead of sunrise.  When I told Tisen goodbye, he momentarily raised his head a fraction of an inch and blinked.  Then he fell back into a state of involving loud snoring.  I was jealous.

Hipstamatic makes high tension wires look charming

Hipstamatic makes high tension wires look charming

Once on my bike, I realized I had never headed to the Riverwalk from our new location before.  I wasn’t exactly sure how to make it to the Walnut Street Bridge without having to navigate any stairs.  I didn’t quite make it there stepless–I had to carry my bike up one flight of steps–but I did make it without riding on any streets, which was a nice way to start out the morning.

Structures I normally try to keep out of the frame

Structures I normally try to keep out of the frame

I took my time riding in the dark, breathing in the smells of spring, and watching the light gradually increase in the sky ahead of me.  I saw Osprey and Great Blue Herons.  Ring-billed Gulls and Tree Swallows.  Dozens of Warblers teased me by flying ahead of me and remaining just visible enough to be recognized as Warblers, but not long enough for their particular species to be identified (even when I got off my bike and pulled my binoculars out of my saddle bags).

The iPhone might not be good for getting photos of birds, but it does pretty well capturing high-tension wires

The iPhone might not be good for getting photos of birds, but it does pretty well capturing high-tension wires

When I made it to the last mile before the dam, as I entered the sculpture garden, I saw the strange exhibit I call “Abduction” glowing in the dim morning light as a cloud of mist rose off the grass and the sky turned pink in the distance.  I thought it was an excellent time to make use of my iPhone camera.

Abduction Sculpture at sunrise with last bit of mist in the background

Abduction Sculpture at sunrise with last bit of mist in the background

When I made it to the end of the Riverwalk at the Chickamauga Dam, I coasted down to the fishing pier.  I decided it was another photo op, although maybe not the kind I usually think of.  The large manmade structures used to generate the electricity that powers Chattanooga (and probably a lot of other places) may not be my normal idea of a subject I want to immortalize, but this morning I just felt grateful for the electricity instead of annoyed by the environmental impacts of the dam.  And for once, I found myself smiling with appreciation.

Much later in the day, Tisen enjoyed sitting in the evening sun with Cow

Much later in the day, Tisen enjoyed sitting in the evening sun with Cow

 

Appventure

My silly boy "awesomized" by Camera!

My silly boy “awesomized” by Camera!

I tried a little experiment comparing the collection of iPhone photography apps I have.  I picked a vase sitting on a dresser in front of a mirror for a subject instead of trying to capture my rambunctious dog whose immediate reaction to having any form of a camera pointed at him is to either run towards me or start turning his head back and forth.

I learned some lessons I didn’t expect to learn from this test.  First, no metadata is captured in the photos that identifies which app was used to take them.  This made it difficult to identify which photos were taken with which app.  Maybe when someone starts paying me to test iPhone photo apps I’ll do that.

"Awesomized" image from Camera! app (using their built-in editing)

“Awesomized” image from Camera! app (using their built-in editing)

While I did my best to reconstruct this (and in some cases it was obvious), I can’t guarantee I’ve accurately matched unedited photos with apps.  I did, however, do editing one photo at a time so I could keep track.

Another surprise lesson was that some apps don’t save the image you’ve created automatically.  HDR Pro was one that I tested, but then lost the image when I tried to find it after the fact.  Same problem with Camera Plus.  Or else I just couldn’t find the images because of the aforementioned problem.

Camera+ edited version using the black and white slider to make it not quite black and white--also darkened

Camera+ edited version using the black and white slider to make it not quite black and white–also darkened

Tisen did not, as usual, enjoy my photographic experiment.  He started out lying in his bed at my feet undoubtedly thinking I was there for the purpose of giving him a belly rub.  When I ignored him, he decided to try ignoring me and moved into the living room.  When this didn’t result in me following him to the living room, he came back in to check on what in the heck I was doing.

I made amends by taking a few shots of him when I was done with my test.  He seemed grateful enough for the attention to hold relatively still.

Here is my summary:

I tested 5 Apps:  The iPhone default camera app, Camera+, Camera!, Hipstamatic, Pro HDR and Camera Plus.  Since I lost the photos from Pro HDR and Camera Plus and Hipstamatic is more of an “instant photo editing” app than an enhanced camera, I haven’t included images from those two.

There is little difference in the quality of the unedited image from one app to the next with the exception of the Camera! app.  This may be because I turned on image stabilization in this app.  That feature does make a difference.

Camera+ Version

Camera+ Version

"Image Stabilized" shot from Camera!

“Image Stabilized” shot from Camera!

The default camera app on the iPhone

The default camera app on the iPhone

The experience of getting the image is made harder or easier by the overlays available for framing the image.  I like the Golden Rule overlay in Camera! the best.

The exposure control in Camera+ is minimal and I found it takes quite a bit more time to adjust the exposure and then have to reframe the subject because the act of changing the exposure causes me to move the camera all over the place.

Frankly, I think a tripod might help more than an app.